January 29, 2018

CHAMPION—January 29, 2018


When he was 71 he used to square-dance. Now he is 81 and has a new hip, a new knee, a stylish walking cane and the same sweet smile photographs going back decades prove he has always had. The big crowd at Vanzant’s Thursday Jam (brought out by good weather and good road conditions after a long period of neither) celebrated Duane Collins in advance of his Sunday birthday. The General led that song, and, according to him, did a good job of it. There will have been a big gathering of children and grandchildren at the Collins’ house on Sunday and Ruth is always happy for such an occasion. Champion’s close neighbor, Glen Cooley, celebrates on the first of February and has been doing so since 1940. Zack Alexander also has his birthday on the first and he has Champion grandparents who love to party with him. His Aunt Angie has the second as her birthday as do Judy Sharon Parsons, Connie Grand, Charlene Dupre, Catherine Mallernee and Nikki Combs. Groundhog Day is a particularly popular day for birthdays of interesting, talented people. Our Skyline R2 School is turning out interesting, talented people, among them eighth grade student, Jeffrey Rineman, who will have his day on the third. You celebrants are appreciated, admired and loved by your families and friends. Be happy.

Look for this logo to help support our great little rural school–Skyline R2 School.

Skyline School participates in the Box Tops for Education program. The school gets $.10 for each box top bearing the Box Tops for Education logo–most General Mills products. They also collect Best Choice labels and get $30.00 for each 1000 they send off so, as Ms. Helen says, “That adds up.” Feel free to mail your box tops and labels to Skyline R2 School—Box Tops, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717 or drop them off during school hours. There are plenty of ways to support our vital little school. Even if we do not have students attending, we all benefit from it. Newcomers and old folks can benefit by being around young people. It is a way to participate in the community and to keep ourselves young at heart. Bridget Seabert Hicks says they are looking for volunteers to work the concession stand on the following evenings: February 6th , February 20th, and February 27th. Call 417-683-4874. Have some fun doing good.

Wednesday was much improved as Sharry Lovan brought her father’s beautiful old banjo to Champion to join in with the regular neophytes. The banjo is not that old since her dad bought it new when she was seven. It is beautiful though. On Saturday it was well reported that she and her friends, David Richardson, Lynette Cantrell, Rod Cash, and Wendy and Ed Cline had enjoyed a terrific success as they paid tribute to Patsy Cline. Bravo! Sharry says her four year old granddaughter, Kiley Mae, has a case for her guitar now and is anxious to work up some tunes to perform with her grandmother. Other musical events to put on the calendar include one that Champion friend, Kaitlyn McConnell of Ozarks Alive has put together. On Saturday, February 24th, several of the region’s longtime musicians (Alvie Dooms, H.K. Silvey, J.R. Johnston and David Scrivener and others) will gather at the Ozark County Historium in Gainesville to share stories about old-time music and its place in local communities. After a panel discussion led by Kaitlyn, the musicians will play some of the old songs commonly heard in days gone by. This event is free and open to the public. Kaitlyn will inform us of the time.

Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. That is according to Proverbs 11:25. It could be the reason an Old Champion’s Mother would, upon the arrival of any guest, invited or chance, soon offer water, coffee, or tea. There are probably a number of Biblical verses that have encouraged this particular hospitality, which some call Southern, though gracious people of all climates subscribe. This verse also suggests that a generous person will prosper. The King James Version says “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” We think of fat and jolly in the same thought if the heavy person is someone we like. Liberalism seems to have a bad name these days, contrary to what a good upbringing might have taught. Champions, on the whole, like a liberal piece of pie but are want to conserve it nevertheless.

Beautiful warm days have some Old Champions out working beyond their capacity. They will nap heavily and groan from the unusual exertion. They will rest up and then get back to it, proud of what little they do get done. The little bit of rain and little bit of greening is encouraging. How nice it is to be out in the fresh air and away from the internet and the dreary political news of television and radio. It is fascinating to think that in less than a year our core principals have been degraded and our free and open society is in one of its worst conflicts among its own citizenry since the Civil War. While preparing the same soil for this year’s crops that was worked during the Civil War, one thinks about the terrible strife that occurred around these parts in those not so long ago days—within the memory of some old timers not long gone. It is not just the middle of the road, compromising moderate who needs to ascribe to tolerance, those hard right, poor-hating isolationists need to listen objectively to the other side even as do the left leaning, inclusive, spotted owl-loving, do-gooders. If both teams could be corralled for a manure shoveling contest, Champion would be known as the Fertile Crescent of Booger County. Seed catalogues have been tantalizing all winter. Now it is about time to make some decisions about the garden and the government—approaching, as in the song, with “A Purpose and a Plan” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


January 22, 2018

CHAMPION—January 22, 2018


Saturday’s road snow gave way to Monday mud.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”  John Steinbeck’s question in Travels with Charlie: In Search of America is clearly answered with our dramatic temperature change during the course of a few days.  On Saturday there was still snow on country lanes.  We are plenty sweet, thank you.  Champions were optimistic for good rain, the gentle soaking kind, but it came down in buckets with plenty of thunder.  The Official Champion Peach Can set in a flower pot out in the open contained precisely 1.5 inches of rain.  That is the most significant precipitation in quite some while.  A foray out on the 4th Tuesday for blood pressure exams (by Tina of the Douglas County Health Department) at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium will give locals the opportunity to see if there is water under the New East Champion Fox Creek Bridge.  Can Spring be far behind?

Susan and Wesley Freeman have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.  They live down in McKinney, Texas, but Suzie says they are still ‘hillbillies at heart.’  Their Champion friends send them congratulations.  Alvin Barnhart celebrated a birthday on Saturday, the 20th.  On Friday he had been out in the woods cutting firewood to help a neighbor who had suffered an accident and was out of commission.  Champions say, “Happy birthday to a good neighbor.”  Talk about your good neighbor.  That is Brenda Coffman Massey.  Her birthday is the 22nd and she turns out to be behind or right in the middle of practically every good work in her neighborhood.  Not only that, she has a great smile and capacity for fun that is the envy of every old stick-in-the-mud around.  The fiddler’s sister, sweet Sally Prock, shares her birthday on the 23rd with a dynamic young percussionist, Oliver Holden Moses, who was 16 in 2015.  He is dazzling them at Northwestern University now.  Thomas Jarnigan’s is old enough now to sing, “Happy Birthday” to his dear old Dad up there in the Pacific Northwest.  Cowboy Jack can sing that song to his dear Joyce on the 26th and Shannon Alexander can sing it to the lovely Kaye on the 27th.  A note in the Official birthday book says that Jacob Brixey’s Dad was 40 years old in 2012.  Loneda (Neda) Bennett is now a grandmother (Paisley) and also has a birthday on the 30th.  Ms. Helen over at our wonderful little Skyline R-2 School shares student birthdays with The Champion News:  Jacob Brixey, second grade—January 18; Kyle Barker, fifth grade—January 21st; Elizabeth Hinote, third grade—January 22nd; Blake McIntosh, kindergarten student—January 24th; Brooke Johnson, sixth grade—January 26th; Erika Strong, fifth grade—January 30th.  All of you, enjoy all your days.  Make the most of them like Champions.

It is wise to be careful out in public these days with the influenza raging.  Anything that we touch can possibly be contaminated.  Paper folding money is particularly suspect of possible corruption.  It goes through lots of hands.  Hand washing has become a first defense against the virus.  Money laundering is a different thing.  Financial crimes such as tax evasion and money laundering have proven to be the straws that finally break the criminal’s back.  The term ‘money laundering’ actually comes from Alfonzo Capone who began the endeavor in local coin operated laundries that he controlled in New York.  He laundered billions of dollars but was ultimately convicted for tax-evasion.  Other great practitioners of the art were John Gotti, the Teflon Don, and the infamous General Manuel Noriega of Panama, both of whom were brought down by Champion Bobby Three Sticks.  Gotti died in 2002 in the Federal Prison Hospital in Springfield.  Noriega served time in the United States and in France for money laundering before he was returned to Panama where he was incarcerated for crimes committed while he was in office and where he died in 2017.  It may be as dangerous to launder money as it is not to wash your hands.  The flu that is going around now is a particularly virulent strain.  Dr. Taubenberger, Senior Investigator in NIAD’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases says that all the human–adapted influenza viruses of today are descendants, direct or indirect, of that founding virus that caused the 1918 flu pandemic that infected 500 million people around the world and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million people—three to five percent of the world’s population.  Our population is much larger now that it was in 1918, and it can clearly be said that these are even more dangerous times.


Skyline R2 Tigers hosted their second archery tournament at ‘home’ this school year.  There were five schools participating:  Lebanon, Manes, Mountain Grove, Norwood and Skyline.  It is a terrific program that gives boys and girls the chance to build some personal skills, to learn some science and math, to enjoy competing and getting some interaction with kids from other schools.  Parents and others in the community get to help with the concession stand and to fill the grandstand to watch a fascinating event.  It is a very quiet, orderly sport.  Whistles blow, the audience holds its breath and then there is the thud, thud, thud of arrows hitting the targets.  Skyline students did well.  Cyanna Davis was first place among middle school females, Kyle Barker was first in the elementary boys’ division and Malachi Fulk was second.  Faith Crawford was first in the elementary girls’ competition, Destiny Surface was second and Miranda Cannucci third.  All these young people are winners.

On Friday over in Willow Springs there will be a Tribute to Patsy Cline.  Sharry Lovan, David Richardson, Rod Cash, and Lynette Cantrell will join Wendy and Ed Cline at the Star Theatre for the performance at 7:00 p.m.  Five dollars at the door is a bargain for an evening of such fine entertainment.  Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759.  A poet and a farmer, well known for his blunt political and civil commentary, one wonders what he might say about our current situation.  Long-time Champion friend, Eulalia Jasmin, writes in (champion@championnews.us) to say that millions of citizens took to the streets all over the world on January 20th with Burns’ message:  “Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us!”  We seem to be in disarray.  The Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City has a sign up that says, “Rather than build a wall, America needs to build a giant mirror to reflect on what we’ve become.”  Thursday will find people celebrating with Burns Suppers in Scotland and many other places around the world even in Vanzant where there will be pot-luck feasting and good music.  It happens in Vanzant every Thursday evening (weather permitting) in the Community Building, starting at 6:00 with the potluck and then a music jam from 7:00 to 9:00.  Maybe someone will sing that Stonewall Jackson song, “I washed my hands in muddy water.  I washed my hands but they didn’t come clean.  I tried to do like Daddy told me.  But I must have washed my hands in a dirty stream” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A muddy stream when it is not frozen.

January 15, 2018

CHAMPION—January 15, 2018


Champion Snow on Sunday–Photograph by Roger Wiseman

The East Champion Fox Creek Bridge is a fait accompli.  Well done, gentlemen.  It looks good and will doubtlessly serve well until the single tin horn gets blocked with brush and the rushing tide overtops the concrete.  That is not to say that three tin horns could not be blocked with brush and debris, but the FEMA is not there to make improvements, but to restore things, as much as possible, to the way they were before the emergency.  Chances are good that this bridge will last as long as the last one did. Go to www.championnews.us to see pictures of the whole interesting process.

The range map in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology publication, “All About Birds,” indicates that there are no Spotted Owls in Missouri.  The map shows the nearest habitat is west of Oklahoma.  That information did not play into the conversation interrupted down on the Wild Wide Banks of Auld Fox Creek.  The comparison was being drawn:  Spotted Owl–more or less tasty than Bald Eagle, Buzzard or Peacock.  The great number of deer in area fields and dead along the roadsides figured in the talk.  Some of the talk was meant to be inflammatory and provocative for the sake of comedy, as the newcomer was perceived to be an ecologist or at least to have leanings in that ‘green’ direction.  The Spotted Owl was a player in the logging debates in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1990s.  Federal Protection for this bird came to represent all environmental regulations.  Some of those regulations may have caused the great buildup of brush and underbrush throughout the California forests that made them tinderboxes during the extended drought there.  Fires took the trees holding the soil, and the soil and ash took a trip downhill in the unprecedented rain event.  One thing leads to another.  Often even honest effort to make things better is twisted, thwarted and mishandled.  Despite protection, the owl is still on the decline owing to habitat loss and competition with Barred Owls.  We have Barred Owls here.  Perhaps a Prominent Champion can speak to their taste in comparison to Bald Eagle, Buzzard, or Peacock.  The conversation continued:  “Republican or Democrat, none of them would pull you out of a mud hole.”  “But, sir, practically everyone here is one or the other.  I’d pull you out of a mud hole.”  “Yes,” he said, “folks around here would, but not those Washington uppity-ups.”  He has a point and a sense of humor.

Skyline fourth grade student, Aaliya Irby has a birthday on January 16th on the same day as Coach Davault and Champion granddaughter Miley Schober.  Miley’s cousin, Rese Kuntz, has the 17th as his birthday as does an intrepid Vanzatiana.  The 18th is for Jacob Brixey and Mary Beth Shannon of Far-East Champion.  The 19th is shared by the Preeminent Champion who will be celebrated as the hub around which the growing circles of Champions whirl.  J.C. Owsley of Jordan, Missouri is a staunch supporter of The Champion News and if often seen on a big white mule.  His birthday is also the 19th.  The 20th is the special Day for Sharon Woods.  Sharon featured briefly in a video that appeared again recently on the Internet.  It was posted originally by Lori Woods Lewis on the occasion of her Dad’s 76th birthday, January 13, 2015.  It was a beautiful family circle of herself, her niece, her dad, brother and sister–all singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?“  She remarked that her little family circle had been singing this song together for 45 years.  They say that music is science.  Music is mathematical.  Music is a foreign language.  Music is history.  Music is physical.  Music develops insight and demands research.  Music is art.  Music has healing properties and makes work lighter.  A treat is coming up on Friday January 26th at the Star Theatre in Willow Springs.  Wendy and Ed Cline (no relation to Patsy) will join with Sharry Lovan, David Richardson, Rod Cash and Lynette Cantrell in a tribute to Patsy Cline.  The performance starts at 7:00 p.m. and only costs $5.00 at the door.  There may be parts of the country where music is not so much appreciated or available.  It is better to live here.  The McClurg Jam was cancelled on the 15th due to the snow and very cold temperatures.  That is a rare occurrence since those musicians are a stalwart devoted bunch.  Tuesday is often a favorite day for some Champions since Laine Sutherland is kind enough to post recordings of this wonderful Monday jam on to Facebook.  If you are engaged in this social media, look up “McClurg Jam” and sit back to enjoy dozens of great videos featuring our talented neighbors.  Thank you, Lanie!

School is out and gallons of hot chocolate are being consumed by children coming in frosty after gallivanting in the winter wonderland.  Pictures are being taken and memories stored.  Snow covers clutter and makes things look clean.  It exposes topography with color contrast.  Hills and hollows we love and think we know show themselves differently under coverlets of snow.  With roughly a twelve to one ratio, it takes a foot of snow to amount to an inch of rain.  Meanwhile we are in the tinderbox status where California found itself before the fire, before the deluge, before the mudslide.  There is an unsecure feeling living out here on the surface of the planet.  Old Champions observe that many things, even the weather, change with the natural progression of time.  These days change seems intensified by exploding population and pollution from the industrial activities of man.  Whatever the cause, the world finds itself in a tumultuous state with weather anomalies and an accumulating subversion of norms.  Things seem to be acceptable now that were unheard of even just a decade ago—even a couple of years ago.  It takes more effort to disagree amicably than it once did.  With humor, humility, compassion, empathy, understanding and the whole idea of ‘love thy neighbor,’ we can move on and sing together along with Louis Armstrong, “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


January 8, 2018

CHAMPION—January 8, 2018


Jonnnie and the Armadillo meet at a Champion pond.”
Eight thirsty Champion bluebirds.

Information from the Missouri Department of Conservation website says that the nine banded armadillo is not considered to be an invasive species, just that its territory is expanding.  They say that freezing temperatures, ice and snow will be the barrier to their northern migration.  They are nocturnal and nomadic and destructive as they dig for earthworms, spiders and other invertebrates.  They are plentiful in the Champion exurbs—boldly out in the daylight defying the dog for a drink of water.  Any place that has open water these days is attractive to all kinds of wild life.  Some folks have great flocks of cardinals and finches and a few miles away cedar waxwings and bluebirds are the dominant birds.  There is something interesting going on outside every window.

An Old Champion out on the High Road the other evening met several vehicles at intervals of a minute or two.  By the fourth meeting the dust was roiling so as to fool the driver into thinking it was a thick fog.  The optimism for rain reigns in Champion hearts.  At Vanzant that evening, Skip asked if Fox Creek was up over the new bridge yet.  With the warming of the weather, it is expected that work will resume on the downstream side of the East Champion Fox Creek Bridge soon.  Meanwhile, according to General ‘sources,’ icicles were forming on feeders at the Vanzant Weather Tower and Bird Sanctuary late Sunday morning.  An off and on slow drizzle at 33 degrees made the afternoon dreary looking while it floated the bright hope of greener times ahead.  It is amazing how little rain it takes to green up a yard that has been parched.  The post in The Champion News ( www.championnews.us) for January 11, 2016 shows a picture taken from the south side of Clever Creek looking across to where Fox Creek Road and the High Road fork.  It was a wide rushing stream—wide and deep enough to make you pay attention driving through it.  Look at the photo of Fox Creek looking east from Champion on the January 4, 2016 post.  There are ten years of archives at that site and pictures to look through if you are far away and feeling nostalgic for the Bright Side.

Clever Creek, January 2016

Felix Maverick Osage Parsons arrived on January 6th, weighing in at 7.4 pounds and 20 inches tall.  Babies are generally measured as ‘long,’ but this fellow has a tall Papa and a tall Grandpa.  He’s liable to be called “Stretch” when he grows up or “Timber.”  Whatever they call him, the lad has arrived into a loving, welcoming family.  Congratulations to the whole bunch of you.  Bud Watkins is the maintenance man who looks after our wonderful little Skyline R2 School.  He also celebrated his birthday on the 6th.  The talented Travis Hathaway was 20 on January 7, 2017, so he must be a grown up now.  Folks who know him will smile at that.  It has been a nice year for Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence who married Roger this year.  Her birthday is on the 9th.  Phillip Moses will also celebrate that day over in Oklahoma with the lovely Paulette.  Tom Van Dyke has been an infrequent but welcome guest in Champion over the years.  He is newly married and hopes are that he and Leticia will visit this summer.  Meanwhile, they will celebrate his birthday on the 10th.  Wilburn Hutchison shares his birthday with Bob Liebert of Teeter Creek fame on January 11th.  When Wilburn was a boy, he and Fleming Gear saw a dirigible motor over the field they were working near where the school sits now.  Who among us can say he has seen a dirigible?  How many even know what that might be?  Teeter Creek is over west of the Trappist Abby Monastery.  You Facebook folks can look at the page called “Teeter Creek Herbs” and enjoy excellent photographs of morel mushrooms, garden spiders and many native plants.  With them Bob includes descriptions, habitat, history and uses of our treasured local flora.  We live in a truly lovely part of the world full of lovely people.  It was a delight to see Judy Stigall and Eileen Woods at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday.  The 13th was the birthday of our much missed banjo player and fine singer, Norris Woods.  He often played, “Life Is Like a Mountain Railway,” so the group played it for Eileen.  It missed Norris’s perfection, but let everyone remember him with that good feeling that comes from music.  John Garret (Snuffy) has his birthday on the 13th as well.  Rumor has it that he will be 75.  For many of us that does not sound nearly as old as it once did.

A space is set aside, in out of the weather, at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium for relaxing with coffee and the newspaper or visiting with friends and neighbors.  The checker board is out for any who wish to test their skill against The General who needs practice if he is ever going to meet up with Sharon Sanders over at the Douglas County Museum for a play-off.  She is the reigning Douglas County Checker Champion and willing to take on all comers any Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. there at the museum in Ava.  The General used to be pretty good according to his stories.  Bring your stories, observations, wild claims and speculations down to the broad banks of Auld Fox Creek to share with your neighbors.  From the archives, a person asked about predictions for the coming year (2016) had such dire and cataclysmic expectations for just the next few months ahead that the inquirer abandoned the survey altogether.  The Granddaughter of an esteemed Champion of old, on the other end of the room sat in stunned disbelief, her eyes wide asking silently, “Is this for real?”  Certainly the world is big enough for widely divergent philosophies, but the breadth of the difference among people in such close proximity can be staggering.  Stagger on down to the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and see for yourself.  It is good to remember that in any given gathering there may well be people (polite people) who believe exactly opposite things and, in most cases, they are indistinguishable from each other by their looks.  For your own peace of mind, be sure you are registered to vote and participate in your democracy.  It is a sure bet that “they” do.  It is eleven more months and four more days until the midterm elections and plenty of time to study.  Bring an instrument with you some Wednesday to improve the music.  “We looked down the river and we see’d the British coming.  There must have been a hundred of them beatin’ on their drums.  They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring.  We stood beside our cotton bales and didn’t say a thing.”  That was in 1814.  In 2018 there will be plenty to be said in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion’s 2016 Christmas Flood

January 1, 2018

CHAMPION—January 1, 2018


Old Champions enjoy wildlife through their windows.

Champions started the New Year with zero degrees and a big full moon sliding down behind the mountain just before sun up.  A sunny day full of feasting and family and friends is a fine way to start anew.  Champions are checking their drip, being sure that there is heat in the well house and that the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors are open under the sink.  It is that time of the year.  One Old Champion said that he had heard it is going to get colder here than it has been in 100 years.  (Colder than the 18 degrees below zero in 1976-77?)  Memories of extreme cold will surface around the stove that has warmed Champions for generations along with those favorite sayings…colder than a tax-collector’s heart, a polar bear’s pajamas, colder than moonlight on a tombstone, than a mother-in-law’s kiss, or any number of other things.  Skip said, “Colder than a well digger’s feet.”  Ina smiled.  ‘Safety’ is the watch word.  There is danger in the cold itself–frost bite and hypothermia come with low temperature and prolonged exposure.  The dangers of gathering firewood are legion and visible as scars on many a Champion.  That watch word is ___________.

Harley Krider was in the neighborhood over the holiday up in Rogersville visiting his sister, Vivian Floyd.  Visiting and doing other good works for family kept him from the Wednesday gathering, but he likely spent some good amount of time in the Historic Emporium before he headed back north.  Some of those nice Watts from Tennessee were also around gladdening the hearts of family.  Lucky old retired people (Who knew how pleasant it would be?) watch the birds and wild life through their windows.  Farmers, young and old, have cattle to feed, ice to break on the ponds, cows to milk and myriad other outside chores that keep them busy and vigorous.  Karen Ross rolls down her window every whip-stitch to stuff mail in our boxes and propane deliverers stand out there while it pumps.  Deer hunters are out there with their muzzle loaders just having a wonderful time.  Those of us who get to stay inside around the stove and cook are pleased with the division of labor.  There are some good stories associated with the tradition of eating black-eyed-peas on New Year’s Day.  One notion about the custom is that if you make black eyed peas your main dish on the first day, you will eat at least that well all year.  Champion.

2017 Spring Fling

Vanzant’s Bluegrass Jam was delightful despite the weather.  Attendance was down slightly because of the weather and the delightful demands of family at holiday time.  The music was sweet, particularly as it kicked off with “Happy Birthday dear Mary and Robert!  Happy Birthday to you!”  Mary Goolsby beamed and The General said he never heard it sung better.  On the 31st, Tim Tamburrino of the Midwest Bluegrass Association sent out the good wishes from the music community to Russell’s little brother.  Russel Upshaw put the Vanzant Jam together as we know it today after circumstances at the previous venue became awkward and Robert, The General, is doing a good job of keeping it going.  Eli Ogelsby has a Champion grandmother and a birthday on December 30th.  The New Year starts with parties for Jacob’s Dad on the first and for Jacob on the 3rd.  Cousin Kabela is in between them with her fifth birthday on the 2nd.  The first is also the day of much celebration for Ms. Jan Teetercreek.  The third is for Dr. Zappler’s arm-candy, Leland.  The sweet Mrs. Esther Howard celebrated that day as well.  Champion Girlfriend Extraordinaire celebrates on the 4th of January.  Last year she asked for a Spring Fling and it arrived with a fish fry and music and a sweet community get together right there in the big middle of the Square in Downtown Champion.  It was a lovely affair.  David Richardson and Sheri Lovan played music out on the wide veranda.  A while back, sitting around the old wood stove there in the Recreated Emporium, she allowed as how that is what she wants for her birthday again this year.  It is a joy to share her birthday present.  We will just have to wait a little while.  All the people born on the 4th of January are likely to have some of the sweet, generous, fun loving qualities of the charming Champion girlfriend, but there is no guarantee.  Still, any wayward soul born that day might be worth redeeming with a little education and patience even if they are well into their eighth decade.  It will just require forbearance.

As the holiday decorations get packed away for another year and ‘thank-you’ cards get sent for generous and thoughtful gifts, thoughts turn to the year ahead.  This past one has been a bonafide doozie.  A brief listen into the internet echo chamber of the ‘other’ political party shows that those folks believe thoroughly, honestly, wholeheartedly in the very things you oppose thoroughly, honestly, wholeheartedly.  It is a gift that we all look alike—all of us being people–a person cannot necessarily discern your beliefs just by looking at you, unless you advertise them in some way.  Circumstances, therefore, dictate that we treat everyone with respect.  The days ahead may be full of difficulties and strife as some still chant, “Eighty-six forty five!”  But there are songs in our hearts, gratitude and much optimism.  “Eleven more months and ten more days and I’ll be out of the calaboose!”  That is a line from an old song shared by Uncle Al Masters.  November 6th is the date of the midterm elections—eleven more months and six more days away.  Hopes are that there will be an unprecedented voter turnout.  Some of the rest of the lyrics to Uncle Al’s song were.. ”and he called me an Irish son of a gun–a breaky on the train.”  There are many wonderful old train and railroad songs full of history and emotion like “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad.”  Share your favorite railroad song at champion@championnews.us, or TCN Rt. 72 Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717 or in person down on the broad bonnie banks of Auld Fox Creek.  One of many a favorite is the last verse of Jimmy Rogers’ “Mystery of Old Number Five.”  It says, “So you railroad men take warning and play this game fair, so when The Master calls on us we’ll meet my fireman up there.”  Then there ensues some extended yodeling…(ah lee oh lay he, odle odle lay hee, hee.)  The old year ends and the new one begins with hope in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!